ANISEED: EDIBLE & MEDICINAL PLANT
DR. S. M. ALAM
Apr 9 - 15, 2012
Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum) is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.
Aniseed, sometimes spelled as anise, anis, or anise seed, is considered a spice with a sweet licorice-like taste. It is of the Family Apiaceae, which makes it a relative of other plants like celery, dill, coriander, and cumin.
Aniseed essential oils may be derived from the seed too, which contains the phytoestrogen compound anethole. Anethole is also present in fennel and star anise and accounts for the sweet aroma and taste of oils, ground or whole seeds and leaves.
The spicy plant is native to Middle-East and Mediterranean region, probably originated in Egypt. Aniseed is a herbaceous annual plant growing to 3 ft (0.91 m) tall. The leaves at the base of the plant are simple, 0.5-2 in (1.3-5.1 cm) long and shallowly lobed, while leaves higher on the stems are feathery pinnate, divided into numerous leaves. The flowers are white, approximately 3 mm diameter, produced in dense umbels.
NUTRITION IN ANISEED SEEDS:
* Excellent source of many important B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamin
* Good source of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A and vitamin-C
* Contains minerals such as calcium, manganese, copper, iron, potassium, zinc and magnesium
* Anethole as the main constituent, gives sweet and aromatic flavor
ANISEED HEALTH BENEFITS:
1. VERMIFUGE: This is yet another aspect of its insecticidal property. It can kill the worms in the intestines. This property can be particularly beneficial for the children.
2. STIMULANT: The stimulating property of anise essential oil can benefit us in the following ways. It can stimulate circulation and give relief from rheumatism and arthritis, stimulate secretion of enzymes and hormones and thus the whole metabolism and finally, it can stimulate the nervous system and the brain and can make us more active and alert.
3. SEDATIVE: Due to its somewhat narcotic or numbing effects, it is used as a sedative for anxiety, nervous afflictions, depression, anger, stress etc. and also for symptoms such as insomnia due to its tranquilizing and relaxing effects. This effect is particularly visible when it is used in higher dosages, since in very small doses, it acts as a stimulant.
4. INSECTICIDE: The essential oil of aniseed is toxic to insects and smaller animals and hence its smell keeps the insects away. Hence, this oil can be employed to drive away insects by using it in fumigants, vaporizers and sprays.
5. EXPECTORANT: This oil is really remarkable as an expectorant and this property earned it quite a big share of its reputation. It loosens cough or phlegm deposited in the lungs and respiratory tracts and gives relief from cough, heaviness in the chest, breathing troubles, asthma, bronchitis, congestion, and other respiratory disorders.
6. DIGESTIVE: This property of aniseed and the anise essential oil are very commonly used to promote digestion. It has been an old practice to chew anise seeds or to serve desserts containing anise or to have a glass of warm water with few drops of anise essential oil in it to aid digestion, especially after a heavy meal.
7. DECONGESTANT: This oil of aniseed is very effective in clearing congestion in the lungs and the respiratory tracts, in conditions like asthma, bronchitis etc.
8. CORDIAL: The warming effect of this oil on the respiratory and the circulatory system makes it a cordial. This property helps counter cold and deposition of phlegm and problems like rheumatism and arthritis.
9. CARMINATIVE: Only those who are suffering from gas know what a relief it is to get rid of it. Gas is not funny at all. It is very serious ailment and must be treated in time. It gives rise to indigestion, flatulence, acute chest pain, stomachaches, muscular cramps and pains, rheumatism in the end, heaviness, hypertension and even problems like hair loss and reduction of eyesight, if it becomes chronic.
10. APERIENT: This oil has mild purgative properties and is safe to use too. Unlike other synthetic or harsh purgatives, it is not hard on stomach and liver and does not leave you exhausted and fatigued. This, taken in low dosages, helps clear motions and cures constipation and resultant flatulence and indigestion etc.
11. ANTI SPASMODIC: The situations or ailments caused by spasm are cramps, coughs, aches, diarrhea, nervous afflictions and convulsions. Spasm is an excessive contraction in the respiratory tracts, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and internal organs resulting in severe coughs, cramps, convulsions, obstructed blood circulations, aches in stomach and chest and other symptoms.
12. ANTI SEPTIC: This essential oil also has anti septic properties and gives wounds an effective protection against infections and septic. This aids faster healing of wounds.
13. ANTI RHEUMATIC: This oil can give relief from rheumatic and arthritic pains by stimulating blood circulation and also by reducing sensation of pain in the affected areas.
14. ANTI EPILEPTIC AND ANTI HYSTERIC: Since aniseed essential oil has a narcotic and sedative effect, it can calm down epileptic and hysteric attacks by slowing down circulation, respiration and nervous response, if administered in higher dosages. It is found effective in sedating nervous afflictions, hyper-reactions and convulsions.
Medicinal use: Aniseed seed as well its oil have found application in many traditional medicines for their distinctive health promoting and disease preventing roles.
* The seeds preparations are an excellent remedy for asthma, bronchitic cough as well as digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea and indigestion.
* Aniseed seed water is very helpful in relieving running nose in infants.
* The seeds are chewed after a meal in India to refresh the breath.
Culinary uses: Aniseed seeds, oil as well as fresh young leaves are used in cooking. The flavor is heightened by dry frying the seeds. Anise is used in savory and sweet cooking to which it imparts sweet aromatic flavor to variety of cuisines. The whole seeds and often-times freshly grounded powder added to the recipes at the last moment to limit the evaporation of essential volatile oils in them.
* This delicate spice is being used as flavoring base for soups, sauces, breads, cakes, biscuits and confectionary.
* Aniseed seeds as well as oil have been in use in the preparation of sweet dishes in many Asian countries.
* It is used as a flavoring base in the preparation of herbal tea and a liquor called anisette.